How to spot fake apprenticeships

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In the summer, the government pledged to stamp out the fake apprenticeships after their existence made it onto front pages of national newspapers. This pledge became an important part of the Enterprise Bill that set new guidelines to increase the amount of apprenticeships in the public sector, and to make apprentice a protected term.

The new measures made it an offence for any person, business, or training provider, to provide or offer a course or training as an apprenticeship if it’s not legally deemed an apprenticeship.

However, it is important for young people to know how to spot fake apprenticeships themselves as they are the ones who would be the victims of fraudulent schemes. Here are three things to bear in mind when applying.


1. A certain standard of training and education

The Skills Minister Nick Boles recently said, “Everyone knows what a university degree means. It’s an official title. Young people doing apprenticeships should get the same level of distinction.” This means that as a prospective apprentice, you should expect an apprenticeship scheme to provide the same high standard of training as any other type of official qualification. It should provide you with extensive technical knowledge, actual experience in the relevant field and as well as opportunities to hone new skills that will be necessary further down the employment path. Any apprenticeship that doesn’t provide any these will be a sub-standard scheme.


2. Minimum amount of hours

The government discovered that some employers were running apprenticeship schemes that only lasted for six days. This is unacceptable; employers should offer training schemes that are a minimum of 30 hours per week or at the very least 16, depending on the sector. Furthermore, if the apprenticeship scheme hasn’t got clear or definite work hours, then you probably are not receiving the proper training and education. After all, if a certain standard of training is expected, so should a certain timeframe within which apprentices can be effectively and successfully trained.


3. Description and formality

Apprenticeship descriptions should be clear about what job roles they are offering and what the specifications are. They should also state what official qualifications one should expect to achieve at the end of the scheme. Many of the fake apprenticeships that made the news earlier in the year did not even offer any qualifications meaning that young people worked hard for no formal recognition. Therefore, alongside an initial description outlining everything, there should be a formal Apprenticeship Agreement setting out the duration of the apprenticeship, the training that the employer will provide, the working conditions and the qualifications the apprentice is working towards.


4. Wage

The employer must pay apprentices for time spent training or studying for a relevant qualification, whether while at work or at a college or training organisation. The government states that apprentices are to be treated the same as employees, meaning they should be entitled to paid holidays, sick pay, as well as any benefits it offers. Importantly, as of this month, the national minimum wage for apprentices is £3.30, up by 57p. It should also be borne in mind that employers cannot make apprentices redundant simply because they can’t afford to pay them any more.